Writing marketing messages is easy. Writing good marketing messages is harder. The object of any marketing message is, at its core, to influence the reader in some way.
Sometimes that’s as easy as asking them to do the thing you want them to do. More often, though, it’s not that simple.
Marketers need a whole arsenal of different strategies to get our message across, no matter what channel we’re working with.
Marketing Messaging Strategy: Carrots, Sticks and Other Motivators
The first thing you need to do, before you set metaphorical pen to paper, is determine exactly what results you want from the copy you’re about to create.
Start at the end. What are you trying to convince the reader to do? This will be something like “sign up for a free trial of my product”, or “subscribe to my newsletter”.
Next, consider where your reader is in the funnel. Have they only just heard of you? Are they a loyal subscriber who engages with your newsletter every week?
It’s important to only try to target one funnel stage per piece of content, otherwise your message will be diluted and won’t resonate.
Now consider the distance between where they are and where you want them to be after they engage with the piece you’re about to write.
Once you know that, you can begin to work backwards. What steps do they need to take to go from where they are to where you want them to be?
Getting Them There
Let’s run through a simple example: a brand new contact has filled out a form to download your eBook, triggering a nurturing drip campaign.
Remember, we’re thinking in micro-conversions here – that is, steps you want a contact to take that bring them ever closer to your ultimate goal: a sale.
They’re a brand new contact, and they’ve just entered the top of your funnel. Your goal is to get them to subscribe to your blog, as part of a greater nurturing strategy.
This is a fairly straightforward case – it’s not a big leap to go from downloading an eBook to subscribing to more content.
Nevertheless, you can (and should) use a nurturing strategy even for such an easy step.
Nurture Them Closer with Carrots
At this point, the contact has just engaged with your content – they’ve filled out a form, which triggered an email with a link to the content they requested.
Right at that moment, they’re in a very good position for you to push them to subscribe. They’ve motivated themselves already, they just need a nudge.
“If you found this eBook helpful, you should subscribe to our blog, where you’ll get similar helpful content every week!”
That’s a pretty good motivator. They haven’t actually read your eBook yet when they receive the email, but once they have, they’ll remember that you mentioned a blog. If your eBook was super helpful, there’s no reason they wouldn’t subscribe.
But what if they don’t?
That’s no reason to give up. Don’t just send them another email asking them to subscribe, though.
Instead, take a step back. Make your next touchpoint something purely valuable to them – like a link to a blog post about a topic related to the eBook.
Don’t ask them to subscribe in that second email. Your goal there is to show them that your blog has valuable content. If they like that post enough, they’ll subscribe anyway.
Basically, you’re giving them a carrot (the blog post) and dangling more in front of them (more blog posts every week) if they subscribe.
If they still don’t subscribe, send them another email, with another related blog post, but this time do ask them to subscribe as well.
“Hey there, if you’re still working on <what your eBook covered>, then you might want to check out this article on <something related to the eBook’s topic>. There’s plenty more where that came from, too – and you can get all our helpful content right in your inbox by subscribing!”
Drive Them Closer with Sticks
That’s a fairly commonplace, simple example of nurturing. It’s effective, but it’s not very rapid.
What if you want to make people react a little faster? It’s perfectly fine to want to accelerate your leads a little.
If you can coax people forward with carrots, you can drive them forward with sticks. You’ve probably heard the term “fear of missing out”, right?
It’s something that works on everyone. We’re hardwired for competitiveness, at least to some degree, which means if we think there’s something useful we might miss out on, we’re naturally inclined to take action.
You see this every day in the form of “limited time offers”, “sale ends today”, “while supplies last” and things like that. The intention is to push you to take action by instilling a sense of urgency.
That sort of copy is so common that people just absorb it, and it won’t galvanize them into action unless the offer is something they really want.
Let’s imagine that you’re getting ready to send out an email lead generation campaign with the goal of getting your recipient to set up a call with your reps.
Instead of the usual “here’s why my product is awesome and you should want it” sort of content, try something different.
Provide them with a case study of how your product got awesome results for another company in their space (or, if you haven’t got one prepared, go create one first).
“A company very similar to yours got these amazing results with us, and I think we can have a similar impact on your business” is a lot more convincing.
But that’s not really a stick, is it? It’s good validation, but it doesn’t make them feel a sense of urgency. Let’s fix that:
“<Your competitor> got these amazing results with us, and I think we can achieve similar or even better results for you.”
Now all of a sudden they’re aware that their competition is getting results from a really great tool that they aren’t using.
That’s not fear of missing out on a deal – that’s fear of missing out on market share because their competition has a leg up on them.
Way more convincing for a professional, isn’t it?
Getting the right motivator in place for your target audience makes all the difference. Once you get that right, your results will soar.